The Historic caffe’ Fantoni of Villafranca situated on the main street of the village. You should paying a visit because the cafeteria has seen European history transit by its tables. A history of almost 180 years. And it is indeed rare to find something like this, except in Venice and Vienna. Villafranca is a beautiful town of 33,000 inhabitants. Located on the road 82, that leads from Verona to Mantua.
The Bakery founded in 1842 by Giovanni Fantoni. The inventor of the Sfogliatine di Villafranca, a specialty biscuit that continues the fame of the place until today. Another specialty of the house is Acqua di Fiume. A liqueur that goes wonderfully along with the Sfogliatine.
Created by Marcello Fantoni in 1921, the grandson of the founder. In honor of the occupation of the city of Rijeka (Fiume) by Gabriele d’Annunzio and his legionaries (Enterprise of Fiume). The same poet praised the liquor in a letter.
Today the rooms are in Art Nouveau style, introduced in 1923 with the first significant renovation of the premises. Further restorations were carried out during the following years aimed at preserving or restoring as much as possible the elements of Art Nouveau.
We were there a few days ago, and we must admit that it seems to get into a time machine. Where baking and history are mixed. In this house, on November 14, 1796, during the campaign of Italy. Napoleon Bonaparte slept for a night, perhaps dreaming of his beautiful Josephine who was lodged elsewhere. That was the night before the Battle of Arcole. Represented in a beautiful painting by the French artist Antoine Jean Gros, in 1801.
Another Napoleon passed through the Caffe Fantoni, was his nephew. Napoleon III who signed the Peace of Villafranca, in 1859. Which marks the birth of Italy as an independent state. Right after a bloody battle fought together by the piedmontese troops of the house of Savoy against the Austrians. That’s why another famous specialty of Café Fantoni is the Peace Cake, to remember that day.
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